More than 93% of Internet users indicated they favour speed and readability over appearance when visiting websites, according to a recent online poll conducted by Webcopyplus.
When Internet users were asked what’s likely to drive them away from a website:
- 51.2% indicated “slow load times”
- 42.2% specified “weak web copy”
- 6.6% noted “poor visual presentation”
- A total of 258 users participated in the web writing service provider’s online poll during a four-month period that ended in April of 2007.
The poll results clearly suggest functionality and clear messages top Internet users’ desires and demands.
A total of 132 Internet users noted they are quick to hit the ‘back button’ when pages are slow to load, implying they expect websites to deliver information rapidly without exception.
The Web is fully capable of distributing communications at a staggering rate, but many web creators willfully hinder the technology. For the sake of visitors, you should optimize your images, streamline your HTML and stay away from self-serving Flash intros that provide little or no value.
While Flash is an effective tool for adding audio, video and animation to a website, it’s simply overused.
Why make visitors wait as much as a minute just to watch a logo spin around? It’s a blatant disregard for web users and their time. In fact, most Flash intros are likely not created with the visitor and business in mind, but rather as an opportunity to showcase a programmer’s abilities.
If someone wants to experiment or go for design awards, it shouldn’t be done on the customer’s dime.
Web writing was deemed most important to 109 poll participants. Why? Well, if a site’s web writing does not present the information needed by users, the website provides little or no value regardless of how fast it loads or how stunning it looks.
Provide online visitors web writing that is relevant, concise, scannable and objective. Stay away from marketing hype, which is one of the quickest ways to get labeled a ‘spammer’ and kill your credibility.
The fact that only 17 poll participants placed weight on visual presentation doesn’t mean designers hold a small role in the Web and its evolution.
Quite the contrary. Good designers and programmers recognize the fact that design is both function and aesthetics. It’s not about decoration.
Good design is the tool and principle by which we craft and convey successful communications. Consequently, good design is what ultimately produces useful, convenient and simple websites.
At the end of the day, load time, web writing and design all have integral roles in promoting usability and positive online experiences.
Deliver on all three fronts and you’ll experience more online traffic, happier customers and a healthier bottom line.